|The north wall and adjacent ceiling then ...|
|... and now.|
In 1986 the old QVC was listed as one of the properties in the National Register as part of the Dinosaur National Monument Multiple Resources Listing. In January of 2001 the QVC was specifically listed in the National Register as a National Historic Landmark. The latter listing is especially important because it cites the time period 1957-1958 as the “period of significance” for the building. During that time the structure was constructed and first opened to the public. As a result, the recommendations laid out in the Dinosaur Historic Structure Report Quarry Visitor Center(1) relied heavily on the original design as “the look” that needed to be preserved:
“Known alterations, implemented after the period of significance, are recommended to be removed. Conversely, known historic … design features are recommended to be restored to, or retained at, their historic 1958 appearance. With that in mind, this report recommends restoring the structure to its initially-constructed appearance, the only variance from the original design being accessibility, egress, and structural treatments.”
These directives caused all kinds of problems, but for the present let’s look at the seemingly insignificant issue of paint colors. As described by Allaback (2, p: 51):
"The "finish and color schedule" for the visitor center paints a colorful picture of the building's original interior surfaces. The visitor gallery walls and trim were surf green and the ceiling vernal green. The lobby was surf green with varnished birch trim, and the rotunda and stairway were also green. Offices had walls painted starlight blue and honey beige. Less significant spaces, such as corridors, vestibules, and storage spaces, were tusk ivory. These brightly painted surfaces were intended to relieve the monotony of the valley's gray surroundings and, perhaps, create the effect of an oasis in the desert."
Oddly, this “oasis imagery” was lost on most employees. I remember the faded blue and puke surf green when I came to Dinosaur in 1979. I assumed they were the result of poorly thought out painting schemes and nothing more than a hodgepodge of crappy colors. Over the years, walls were covered with shelves for books, specimens, and storage. Walls were replaced, removed, or installed. Eventually many of these colors were replaced with white or some variant of that.
|A stand of majestic desert rose beams on the east wall of the QVC support the vast expanse of desert rose ceiling and eaves.|
|Who would dare go Behind the Pink Door?|
With the destruction and removal of the rotunda and administrative wing, it is no longer possible to retain the 1957-1958 appearance and, thankfully, we are liberated from the oasis diktat. Sane colors will be part of the new interior, allowing the visitor to focus on the quarry face without being distracted by an immense framework of glaring pink beams and window frames. So the simple act of priming and painting in the QVC is more momentous that one might think.
|Honestly, does this look "gray and monotonous" to you?|
While I’m ranting, I’ll also take exception to the above cited statement that “These brightly painted surfaces were intended to relieve the monotony of the valley's gray surroundings and, perhaps, create the effect of an oasis in the desert.” When I look around at the landscape surrounding the QVC, I see the golden buff Navajo Sandstone, the intense brick red of the Carmel Formation, both the brown and golden river sandstones of the Morrison Formation, the variegated maroon and grey banded mudstones in the Morrison and Cedar Mountain formations, and the shimmering silver of the Mowry Shale, to name just a few. So the landscape is hardly gray and monotonous. I guess some people just can’t see that. Then again, the old ramp leading into the second floor of the rotunda was supposed to be an architectural element reminiscent of the tail of a sauropod dinosaur, one of the common residents of the Carnegie Quarry. Funny, I thought it was simply a ramp to get people into the building – what an ignorati.
Practitioners of the dubious science of color psychology claim that the color pink has a calming effect (3). However, this is apparently only and initial reaction, because when used in prison, inmates often become more aggressive as they become accustomed to the color (3, 4). While employees at Dinosaur didn’t become more aggressive with exposure to pink….er “desert rose”, one of the long term effects of exposure is that we tended to look down at our feet rather that looking at anything above shoulder height.
Amusingly enough, the belief in the calming effects of pink has also been used in college athletics. As recounted at one website (4):
“University of Hawaii associate head coach George Lumkin was a member of the 1991 staff that saw visitor locker rooms at Iowa and Colorado State painted pink in the belief that the color made players passive. Now the WAC has a rule that a visiting team's locker room can not be painted a different color than the home team's. In other words, it can be pink, black or any color of the rainbow, as long as both locker rooms are the same color.”
(1)Dinosaur Historic Structure Report Quarry Visitor Center http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/dino/hsrt.htm
(2) Allaback, S. 2000. Chapter 1. Quarry Visitor Center, Dinosaur National Monument, Jensen, Utah. in: Mission 66 Visitor Centers: The History of a Building Type. United States Department of the Interior, National Park Service, Cultural Resource Stewardship and Partnerships, Park Historic Structures and Cultural Landscapes Program, Washington, D.C.: pp. 39-66. http://www.nps.gov/history/history/online_books/allaback/vc1.htm